What is in a touch?
If you know me, you know how much I like young people. I am very capable of loving other people’s kids as much as I love mine - probably why I love teaching young people. During my teaching years, I especially liked the students who were difficult, or the underdog, or the one the other teachers had problems with – those kids were the ones that needed love and attention. The ones that did everything right were just fine – everyone liked them. No, it was the kids who were outcasts and outlaws, that I found most interesting. Although I am probably not the smartest or the best at English Lit or Grammar, I was a good teacher, because I cared for the kids. But every once in a while, a kid would come along that I had a difficult time liking. Abhor might be a good word for what I felt. It might be their attitude toward me, sometimes physical appearances played a part, or maybe it was a spiritual thing, but there were some students (just a few) that I really disliked. The few times this happened, I found it difficult to even want to be near the young person, but I refused to give into such feelings. I worked at liking all my students no matter what. I figured there was a mother who loved the kid, and so could I, but it did take work. I would start by standing near the kid during class. Then came the touch. I would make myself touch the young person – maybe a pat on the back or just a brush of the arm as I helped them with their work. It was amazing what touch could do. Soon I found that the repulsiveness I felt would fade away. My attitude would change and so would the student’s. A simple touch was a big factor.
Another touch story:
One time Toby and I were attending Aspencade, a fall arts and crafts festival in Red River. These events always brought people out of the woodwork. I happen to see two people who worked together, but were not a couple, standing together – nothing unusual about that. The lady was recently divorced. The man was in a longtime "live-in" relationship with another woman. But then the lady put her hand on the man’s shoulder and leaned over and whispered something to the man. She pointed at something going on and they both laughed. It was nothing – a simple gesture. It was everything. I turned to Toby and said, "Oh my gosh, they are a couple!" Toby gave me the "you don’t know that for sure so keep your mouth shut and don’t start any rumors." He was right, but there was something in the way the lady touched the man’s shoulder. The next week, it all came out without me saying a word. The man left his live-in lady-friend and moved in with the new lady. The touch gave it away.
Still another story:
When Jesse was about ten years old, she played soccer in Questa where we lived. I was sitting in the car watching soccer practice one afternoon. The kids were all lined up down the field waiting their turn to dribble the ball down the field and shoot at the goal. There was a kid behind Jesse who kept poking her, teasing her, and just generally messing with her while they stood in line. I was kind of worried about Jes, but then she turned and caught the kid's hand in her hand and bent him back to the ground. It was fast and furious and did wonders. The kid quit messing with her. She obviously had the right touch.
The other day, I saw one of Jesse’s young men touch her. It was a silly, friendly punch-to-the-shoulder-like-thing while they were laughing at some joke. But I knew it was more than that, and I thought, "Beware the touch! She will take you down."
I could go on and on with my touch stories. It is amazing what the human touch can do.